In one of the most interesting matches of the 2017 ITA Division I National Women's Team Indoor Championship, the second seed North Carolina Tar Heels managed to survive a brave Ohio State Buckeyes test, beating them in the deciding match to reach the final for the 3rd straight year. It all came down to the battle of Hayley Carter and Francesca Di Lorenzo, two of the best Collegiate players, and Carter won that one 6-4 4-6 6-4 to deliver the final 4th point for the Tar Heels and punch the ticket for the final against Florida Gators. Hayley Carter/Sara Daavettila won the first match for North Carolina, defeating Anna Sanford/Sandy Niehaus 6-2 on the main court, but Francesca Di Lorenzo/Miho Kowase brought Ohio State back into contention with a 6-4 triumph over Jessie Aney/Cassandra Vazquez on court 2. The doubles point was to be decided in the tie break of the match between Alexa Graham/Chloe Ouellet-Pizer and Ferny Angeles Paz/Olivia Sneed, and the Tar Heels pair grabbed it by 7-5 to clinch the first point of the match.
Jessie Aney lost her doubles match, but she fixed all that with a 6-1 6-3 victory over Gabriella De Santis on court 3 to move the Tar Heels 2-0 up, in an always important first singles encounter. Miho Kowase put the Buckeyes on the scoreboard, winning the close second set to take down Makenna Jones 6-2 7-5 on court 5, cutting the deficit to 2-1, and the tie was now pretty much alive and kickin'. Straight sets wins were now in the past and Sandy Niehaus managed to finish a 3-setter first, she bested Alexa Graham 7-5 2-6 6-3 to level the score at 2-2, making all others live matches pretty much crucial. Sara Daavettila came from behind on court 2 against Anna Sanford, sending North Carolina into another lead with a 5-7 6-4 6-3 win.
That was not the end of the drama, though, as Ferny Angeles Paz earned the 3rd point for Ohio State on court 6, also losing the first set to seize the control and a 4-6 6-1 6-4 triumph over Chloe Ouellet-Pizer, making the score all even again. In the best possible scenario, this great tie had to be decided on the main singles court, between two outstanding Collegiate players, and after a great battle, it was Hayley Carter from North Carolina who toppled Francesca Di Lorenzo, the best-ranked player in the States, by 6-4 4-6 6-4. Di Lorenzo won all 3 previous encounters but this time it was Carter who produced better tennis in the closing stages to push her team through to the final, keeping a perfect 8-0 score this season.
North Carolina Tar Heels vs Ohio State Buckeyes 4-3
Doubles - (Order of match finish - 1, 2, 3)
1. Hayley Carter/Sara Daavettila (UNC) vs Anna Sanford/Sandy Niehaus (OSU) 6-2
2. Francesca Di Lorenzo/Miho Kowase (OSU) vs Jessie Aney/Cassandra Vazquez (UNC) 6-4
3. Alexa Graham/Chloe Ouellet-Pizer (UNC) vs Ferny Angeles Paz/Olivia Sneed (OSU) 7-6(5)
Singles - (Order of match finish - 3, 5, 4, 2, 6, 1)
1. Hayley Carter (UNC) vs Francesca Di Lorenzo (OSU) 6-4 4-6 6-4
2. Sara Daavettila (UNC) vs Anna Sanford (OSU) 5-7 6-4 6-3
3. Jessie Aney (UNC) vs Gabriella De Santis (OSU) 6-1 6-3
4. Sandy Niehaus (OSU) vs Alexa Graham (UNC) 7-5 2-6 6-3
5. Miho Kowase (OSU) vs Makenna Jones (UNC) 6-2 7-5
6. Ferny Angeles Paz (OSU) vs Chloe Ouellet-Pizer (UNC) 4-6 6-1 6-4
ALSO READ: 2017 ITA Div I Nat. Women's Team Indoor Champ.: Florida Gators blank Georgia Bulldogs to reach the final